The amount of nitrifying bacteria that you have in your aquarium is important as it will determine the speed of the nitrite cycle and hence the harms that your fishes might face. These bacteria will break down the waste products and oxidize the harmful nitrogen compounds that they generate making the aquarium a safe one for your fish.
You would want the two types of nitrifying bacteria to thrive in your aquarium. They are: Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter. The former fulfills the role of deteriorating ammonia into nitrites and the latter performs the oxidation of nitrites into nitrates. These two will help the nitrite cycle in your tank go smoothly and reduce the risks of harm to your fishes, therefore, keeping them healthy.
So now the question arises on how to increase these bacteria in your tank? Carry on to find out.
1. The population of your tank
You must be aware of the amount of fish you keep in a tank. If there are too many fish then bacteria that are already there will be overloaded with several waste materials. The bacteria will have problems in converting the waste into nitrogen compounds and hence it will mess up the nitrite cycle and the bacterial growth will not take place. In the end, your fish will begin to feel the effect of a large number of toxic substances and eventually die.
The sand bed in your aquarium also plays a crucial role in determining the number of nitrifying bacteria. The sand bed provides abundant surface area for the bacteria to thrive on and it helps in increasing the number of bacteria too. You can make the sand bed shallow or deep as you wish but make sure to use live sand as some bacteria will already be present there. If you use dry sand, it will take some time for the bacteria to grow and increase in numbers.
3. Keep the lights low
Nitrifying bacteria happens to grow faster in dark environments so you are advised to keep them low or just turn them off. You don’t need to turn it off all the time, just turn it off while the cycle is taking place or before going to bed.
4. Increase Water temperature
The warmer your water is the faster the nitrifying bacteria will multiply. But don’t make it too warm as it will make the nitrogen cycle go haywire and will affect your fish. Increase the temperature to about 83 to 87℉. To keep the fishes away from harm it is better to remove them from the tank while you are increasing the temperature of the aquarium.
5. Increase oxygen levels
The nitrifying bacteria thrive when there are high levels of oxygen in your aquarium. The high levels of oxygen will help them reproduce and grow rapidly. Increasing the oxygen levels along with the temperature also works well together in increasing the number of nitrifying bacteria. To increase oxygen levels you can add an air pump to your aquarium and just turn it on for a day and let it do its job. You can also increase water flow in your aquarium for a higher level of oxygen. Add wavemakers to your aquarium and fit them properly for they will need to create water pressure.
6. Add filter media
Adding filter media from a previously established tank is the most effective way to increase nitrifying bacteria rapidly. Although you also have to keep in mind what kind of filter you have as any sophisticated filters if not used properly can deprive your water of some essential chemicals required for the nitrifying bacteria such as phosphate. The sophisticated filters are good at purifying your water but think again if you want nitrifying bacteria to multiply faster. You can use a phosphate test kit to check the amount of phosphate in your tank.
The bacteria can also grow and multiply in your filter. So, while you are changing your water or cleaning your tank do not wash the filter with tap water as the chlorine in it will immediately kill the bacteria. Instead, use the water of the tank to rinse the filter and clean it.
7. Adding Nitrifying Solution
You can also add nitrifying solutions to your aquarium to increase the number of nitrifying bacteria in your tank. Although surveys and studies have shown that using this solution is a hit or miss. Some people have got better results while using these and some have found no differences. You must keep in mind the factors in which the bacteria thrive before using these such as level of oxygen, amount of food, etc. The efficiency of the solution also depends upon how long it has not been used and using it immediately after buying it is the best option.
8. Maintaining the pH level
The pH level of the water in your tank also plays a role in the number of bacteria you have in your tank. The pH levels between 7.3-7.8 are the optimal range for the nitrifying bacteria. To measure the pH level of your tank you can buy test strips and use them. If your pH levels are too high you can decrease it by reducing the aeration in your fish tank or by adding peat moss within a mesh bag in the fish tank’s filter. If the pH levels are too low you can increase it by adding a teaspoon of baking soda for every 5 gallons of water.
9. Starting off with a good starter fish
If you have assembled a new tank and you want nitrifying bacteria in your tank you should first start by introducing hardy fishes first in small amounts. Fishes such as Common Goldfish, Zebra Danios, Barbs, etc are the ideal fishes for it. Putting them in small numbers at first is the most effective way and it will not overwhelm the little number of bacteria you have in your tank. Hence, they can even multiply with no obstructions and the nitrite cycle will not go haywire.